Grant to Fund Mindfulness Training for STEM Students
Cal State San Marcos has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund a novel project that will offer mindfulness training to STEM students who are preparing for graduate school.
The grant of about $80,000 covers a term of one year and will start on Aug. 1.
The project will be run by two organizations on CSUSM’s campus: the Center for Training, Research and Educational Excellence (CTREE), which supports the educational and research experiences of students from underserved backgrounds in higher education; and the Center for Contemplative Practices, which is dedicated to the practice of mindfulness.
The principal investigators for the grant are Denise Garcia, faculty director of CTREE; Richard Armenta, associate director of CTREE; and Ranjeeta Basu, faculty director of the Center for Contemplative Practices.
Under the grant, the two centers will partner to develop and deliver a series of workshops to CSUSM students who are served by CTREE programs. The workshops will focus on mindfulness practices designed to reduce stress, increase emotional equanimity and resilience, build community, reduce procrastination, and increase focused attention.
“Research has shown that mindfulness practices can be life-changing not only while students are in school, but for the rest of their lives,” said Basu, who will teach most of the workshops. “Reducing stress and anxiety allows students to thrive and find purpose even in the midst of uncertainty and crises. This grant will give us the opportunity to offer these practices to our students.”
The in-person workshops during the upcoming academic year are expected to benefit at least 70 students, and the PIs have discussed the possibility of opening them up to the wider campus community.
The idea behind the project is partly a reflection of the NIH making wellness one of its priorities. Last fall, CTREE reached out to Basu and asked her to run a couple of student workshops about mindfulness and procrastination. The sessions were so well-received that Garcia, Armenta and Basu decided to work together on the grant proposal.
“For me, this grant represents a much-needed and significant change to our programs,” Garcia said. “Mental health for our students has not been a priority in the past for our granting agencies. To be one of the first in the country to incorporate it into our student training programs in such a meaningful way feels like it has the potential to revolutionize the way these training programs operate.”
Brian Hiro, Communications Specialist
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